A Bachelor degree only takes three years, so you should easily be able to finish your courses within that time. With good grades. Maybe there’s room for some extra courses to broaden your knowledge. Extra skills can be learned when doing committees, the more the better. Oh and don’t forget about your social life! Enough student associations you could join. You also have to do sports and stay in shape of course, you know how important a healthy lifestyle is. Also, stay close with your high school friends, it is such a waste to ditch them. And remember kids: family is the most important thing and priority, even though you don’t live with your parents anymore (which is an expensive choice you made by the way). Oh well, you can always keep your debt as low as possible by getting a job. This reduces your study debt and gives you something useful to do with all of your free time!
These days so much is expected from us. Too much. From me at least. The pressure from society and myself was enough to completely break me down. To burn me out. At the age of 19.
When I got into this burn-out I wanted to dig to the bottom of this. I wanted to understand what had happened and make changes. I realised from a very young age I have always aimed for perfection. I had to be the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect daughter. No one told me to be, there was just this voice in my head with a desire for perfection. But what is perfection? That’s where societal influences play a big roll. What makes me expect I can finish my Bachelor in three years? Because that is the norm. Why do I expect myself to do all these committees and sports and jobs besides my study? Because everybody does. Why do I always have to be at every party or gathering for all different friend groups? Otherwise I will disappoint them.
I have never really decided my own goals or standards. Society did for me. And in the study and work field of architecture this society seems to be even more toxic due to competition culture, perfectionism, extremely high workloads, etc..
Maybe the one aspect that causes the problem to be this big, at least in the field of architecture, is the normalization of the situation. It’s just part of the game to pull all-nighters, never be satisfied with your design, always compare your work to that of others, focus on the end result instead of the process and never be truly finished with a design because finetuning is endless. When everybody thinks it’s normal, there’s no alarm bells going off. There is no reason to change the situation you’re in or the self-destructive behaviour you have. Everybody does it like this, so why don’t you?
But enough is enough. Some aspects of this ‘architecture culture’ are NOT supposed to be normalized any longer. In stead they should be talked about. We should speak up for what we see happening, for what competition culture and high workloads do to our wellbeing.
And this is the exact reason we started the discussion on this topic. Last December we organized a Symposium on Wellbeing, where we talked with the Dean, Director of Education, a Student Psychologist and some students that wanted to share their experiences. Everybody talked about the topic of wellbeing from their point of view, at the end all opinions and perspectives came together in a discussion. A discussion that is only the beginning of some big changes that should be made in the field of architecture on the long term. Only the beginning of shifting the focus to student wellbeing.
So on the short term it’s important to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by expectations, by constant comparison, by the high amount of stress. Luckily there are many tools, tips & tricks and resources that can help you with this. Be aware, start the conversation and take care of yourself. Stay Well.
Stylos symposium on wellbeing: www.stylos.nl/staywell
TEDxTalk ‘How to make stress your friend’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU
Student psychologists: https://www.tudelft.nl/en/student/counselling/meet-us/psychologists